Student overwork

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I like to feign interest in the welfare of the students; it makes them think that I care. So I asked one student how things were, and the response was this:

Things are pretty shit. To pay student fees and my rent I have to work 17 hours a week making pizzas at five pounds an hour. I spend weekdays studying and weekends working. There is no respite and the grind of it wears me down.

I independently heard the same from another student:

I study all term, but I have no holidays: in between terms I have to work as technical support. It gets me down.

These students, while they are baking pizzas and doing technical support, are not doing the following:

They did not even talk about missing out in these things, because they don’t even know they are possible. Their lives are full of pizza dough and technical support, and so are the lives of all their friends.

Students will never earn much; there are too many of them chasing jobs. Anyway, their time is better spent educating themselves; why else do we send students to university? If our students don’t learn about theatre lighting, rock climbing, anthropology, languages, film reviews, cycling, and Indian food, when in university – then it may well be that they never will.

I have written about there being too many students at university. But we should either have the courage of our insane convictions and pay them enough to do as their job-description (‘student’) suggests, or we should be sensible and have fewer of them — and more full-timers in the pizza-making and technical support businesses (to be more constructive, let’s bring back apprenticeships). We can’t possibly benefit from putting people in education and forcing them to work; it’s cruel and pointless and there aren’t enough hours in a student’s day.